Changing roles

    Topss England is half way through a three-year project testing
    out new roles and ways of working. Progressing through your career
    you will come across three types of new roles:

    • “Hybrid roles” bring together roles with which we are already
      familiar. These not only crossover between health and social care,
      but also involve housing and education.
    • “Ordinary life roles” bring principles important to social care
      practice into a variety of settings. As well as blurring existing
      professional boundaries some of these roles merge formal and
      informal care. Examples can be seen in the roles of community
      enablers and neighbourhood carers.
    • “Genuinely new” roles that come out of challenges to existing
      arrangements by service users. Some of these involve users as
      providers, partners, educators and evaluators.

    What difference do these make to you as a practitioner? Social
    care is changing dramatically and our pilot sites’ experiences are
    evidence of this. Many of the pilots are trying to redraw
    boundaries between professions so that services become more
    cohesive. Issues raised by these new roles include:

    • Impacts on career development pathways when roles fall between
      different professions – often pay, service conditions and the
      language and culture of the different professions vary
      enormously.
    • The idea of the “professional allied to the community” as one
      way in which the distinctive strengths of social care approaches
      can be both transformed and retained.
    • Developing systems that really involve service users at all
      levels, including as trainers and evaluators.

    Practitioners need to keep up to date with new role thinking
    because they reflect service users’ expressed needs, they are roles
    that demand skills prized by employers and represent opportunities
    to be at practice’s cutting edge.

    Vic Citarella, chair, new roles task and finish group,
    Topss England.

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